Banc One Corp., which expects to eliminate thousands of jobs after merging this year with First Chicago NBD Corp., also has its hand full finding qualified employees.

The seeming contradiction is an issue for many big banks planning major mergers this year.

As they merge, of course, many positions at the corporate and branch levels and in back offices are being eliminated. But banks are also having a hard time filling many other positions, because of the strong economy and low unemployment.

"The industry as a whole is essentially trying to add people with a whole new set of skills," said Corey Yulinsky, a vice president in the financial services practice of Mercer Management Consulting, New York.

In nearly every bank merger announcement made this year, chief executives have said their companies would cut jobs. But even as they prepare to do so, they are also recruiting.

For its recruitment program, Columbus, Ohio-based Banc One has created a CD-ROM presentation about itself and potential jobs. About 4,000 CDs have been distributed to potential employees since May.

With 55,600 employees, there are usually between 3,000 and 3,500 openings any given month, said Susan L. Breevort, national college relations manager for Banc One. Ms. Breevort, whose job duties extend beyond college recruiting, developed the CD-ROM program.

There are 15 staffing offices for Banc One nationwide, and each one is actively recruiting prospective employees, she said.

"We're always looking for a large number of people for a variety of jobs," Ms. Breevort said. For instance, Banc One is desperately seeking people with technical expertise. But she said each national line of business also needs employees.

A recent visit to Banc One's career Web site revealed a number of professional-level positions in each area. There were 139 investment management jobs, 97 in commercial banking, 94 in retail banking, 65 in consumer finance, and 40 in credit cards. There were also 148 computer systems posts advertised.

Banc One's merger partner, First Chicago, also continues to hire, said spokesman Thomas Kelly.

"It varies business segment by business segment, market by market," Mr. Kelly said, but "just as we continue to do bank promotions, we continue to recruit."

Mr. Kelly said internal candidates would be considered first, especially as more workers are notified that their jobs will be eliminated. So far, he said, most of those decisions have not been made.

Minneapolis-based Norwest Corp., which plans to merge with Wells Fargo & Co. of San Francisco, is going to pare at least 2,100 positions.

Norwest spokesman Michael Bares said both companies have largely frozen hiring, because they hope to fill openings with employees who would otherwise lose their jobs. Hiring continues for positions that could not be filled by reassignment, however, and recruiting from colleges has not changed.

Ms. Breevort said Banc One's recruitment program has to overcome the perception that the industry is only cutting jobs.

A selling point to potential employees, she said, is that Banc One has been an acquirer, not a merger target, and therefore can offer a sense of job stability.

Last year Banc One hired 17,000 people.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.